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Charter city measure coming to Menlo Park voters

Original post made on Jun 22, 2018

With a 3-1 vote on June 19, the Menlo Park City Council agreed to ask voters in November to decide on whether to make their home town a charter city.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 22, 2018, 10:49 AM

Comments (15)

Posted by Narcissism
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 22, 2018 at 11:24 am

Why is our City Council so worried about how they get elected? We don't care.

FIX OUR TRAFFIC PROBLEMS


Posted by demand from residents
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 22, 2018 at 12:22 pm

City council is simply moving forward with a demand from residents. Becoming a charter city will provide more options for responding to the threat of this CVRA lawsuit.


Posted by Narcissism
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 22, 2018 at 12:37 pm

What complete self serving hogwash. No one cares how city council is elected.

When I look on Nextdoor or talk to my neighbors do you know what I hear?

It's sure not, "the sky is falling because of City Council elections."

What I hear over and over again is FIX OUR STREETS.

The City Council is tone deaf.


Posted by Mark Lewis
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 22, 2018 at 2:10 pm

Charter status — as an earlier article in the Almanac stated — will permit more outsourcing of city employees. Privatizing of government functions invites corruption, and is a disservice to current public employees.


Posted by Lip Service
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 22, 2018 at 3:00 pm

According to this article the City Council didn't include public contracting in the Charter it is putting in front of the voters. The only issues covered by the charter are Elections and Term Limits.


Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 22, 2018 at 5:25 pm

Ms. keith will push anything which could allow her to stay in office for the longest possible time.

This should be widely & openly discussed @ open meetings & go on the regular ballot. Wasting money for a any special timing is wildly inappropriate. At the same time, let voters decide whether they want "zone" representation or at large.

Belle Haven should not get their own special member on the council unless Allied Arts, Felton Gables, Sharon Heights, etc. also get dedicated candidates who can be elected only by residents of those areas.

Between City Council & Planning Commission, the Willows is over-represented. Nobody seems to care about that & now they've inconvenienced numerous residents by prohibiting traffic/left turns on their precious, publicly serviced streets. Gosh, is that a coincidence?


Posted by backwards
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 23, 2018 at 10:07 am

@Downtowner writes, "Ms. keith will push anything which could allow her to stay in office for the longest possible time."

According to the article, Keith just voted for term limits. Are people even reading the article?


Posted by stephanie
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 26, 2018 at 10:09 am

I don't know about you but trying to go from one end of Willow road to Bell Haven is a nightmare during the day. If they need one individual to speak for them that would be only one person on the road to reduce our disaster traffic. We not only need the 101 interchange to be completed but we need the outdated traffic signals updated. Also, some people need to go back to the DMV to retake the test. Right on Red means stop check when it is clear then you can go. We are such the trendsetters make sure there is a half a car length between you and the person in front of you at a light. I remember this being done if your brakes weren't working correctly. Get off your phone and pay attention to the road! How much space do you think you have? More people need to think about the people behind them instead of just themselves. I am sure Menlo Park can afford the 20k and fix all the street issues we have.


Posted by Thierry
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 30, 2018 at 10:59 am

This is a great decision. Being able to at least consider ranked-choice-voting is very important. For those complaining about the streets, that is a totally separate issue... The way people are elected is very important for our democracy. And changing to a charter city doesn't help incumbents in any way.


Posted by Menlo Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 2, 2018 at 1:21 pm

Charter City is the only way to go. Saratoga is the paradigm of good management. All the work out for competitive bid. The Government Employee Unions are strangling us. It is far less expensive to place all work to be done out for competitive bid. Private contractors can do the job quicker, at the same quality or better for less money. How is that? Most companies have 401Ks. The Cities are spending almost half their budget servicing pension and health insurance obligations that are far out of whack with the norm. City Government Fringe, Overhead and G&A are by far the most expensive anywhere. This can not be sustained. Pretty soon Pensions will consume me than half the budget and the amount of city services will plummet. Then of course the Cities will ask for more taxes to sustain a Union Plutocracy. Is it fair or rational to create this wealth class of entitled Government workers at the expense of the ordinary tax payer?

The Unions have outlived their usefulness. We need to put all contracts out for competitive bid and gradually shrink our city work force.

We need to become a Charter City for this reason alone. Do you hear that Ray?


Posted by Ray Mueller
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Jul 2, 2018 at 1:40 pm

Hi, thanks for the question.

If you read the article, you will see I actually support becoming a charter city. However, I voted against the path the City currently is on, because I believe the question going before voters is misleading, misstates the law, and that the City should engage in a robust transparent city process prior to putting the charter on the ballot. Why? Because the current charter the Council voted to put in front of voters only covers two subjects; elections and term limits. Thus the City will need to put the Charter on the ballot again anyway four years from now.

Residents shouldn't be fooled by the union rhetoric. There is no union issue going before the voters with this Charter. The Council didn't include any union issues in the current charter going before the voters. The confusion around this actually makes my point the current charter process is misleading.

With respect to elections, while being a charter city might provide some flexibility around logistics, it won't somehow exempt the City from the CVRA, so the city won't be able to go to ranked choice voting or any other election method other than district elections until the next census is taken.

On the issue of term limits, I actually proposed term limits with my colleague Rich Cline. We don't need to adopt a charter to accomplish adoption of term limits.

I really encourage residents to actually watch the City Council meeting where this decision was reached. City Attorney Bill McClure actually expressed the same opinion as I did with respect to these issues.

Again, thanks for the question.

Ray


Posted by unbiassed perspective
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 2, 2018 at 3:23 pm

With the currently proposed charter, a citizen charter committee could be formed and have over a year to move the city to ranked choice voting. This change would remove the incumbent advantage. This change would all be within the scope of the current charter, so ranked choice voting could be in place by Ray Mueller's 2020 re-election, without requiring the charter itself to go back to the voters.


Posted by Ray Mueller
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Jul 2, 2018 at 3:58 pm

@unbiased perspective,

While it's disappointing to have my motives questioned, it's par for public service. Nonetheless, even if I decided to run again, which I haven't said I am going to do, it wouldn't benefit me to stay in the current district election process, as you suggest.

You see, if I decided to run for office again, and the elections process stayed the way they are, I may have to run against another incumbent presently serving on Council. When the lines were drawn, two council members were placed in my district.. In a ranked choice election I wouldn't necessarily being running against any one candidate, rather just for a seat on the council. So I am not sure I follow the innuendo.

My best interest would be to support this charter and then support to the change to elections you propose. But I don't. Because doing so will expose the City to a CVRA lawsuit if we try to move to ranked choice voting prior the next census. It't not in the best interests of the residents who elected me.

I would encourage you to watch the City Council meeting and City Attorney Bill McClure's testimony on this topic. Mr. McClure was pretty direct that the City won't be able to move to another voting method without threat of a CVRA lawsuit until the next census is taken.


Posted by Menlo Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 2, 2018 at 5:09 pm

The elections are not the top priority. Why are some people placing emphasis on a secondary issue when the key advantage of becoming a charter city is to no longer be held captive by the Unions. They are bankrupting the city and crowding out funding for worthwhile projects through their rapacious demands for unreasonable pensions and benefits. That should be the City's first priority if we want to remain economically viable.


Posted by unbiassed perspective
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 2, 2018 at 7:58 pm

McClure did hint that it may not be "fair" for the rest of the city to move back to at-large elections, where residents can elect two council members every two years, when Belle Haven can only elect one council member every four years. Making elections "fair" is not at the core of the CVRA. The letter from Shenkman declares the current system to be racially polarizing. Allowing the other districts to return to at-large elections may not be racially polarizing. Hybrid elections, where districts have different voting systems is only allowed in charter cities.

Also, if the CVRA is in any way affected by the move to ranked choice voting, which is doubtful, moving to ranked choice voting before or after the next census is irrelevant.


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